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Brexit news latest LIVE – ‘Rogue agent’ fears in Northern Ireland customs row as Gove demands protocol is ‘refined’

MICHAEL GOVE IS ‘CONCERNED’ THAT EU RESERVES RIGHT TO TRIGGER BREXIT ARTICLE 16 AGAIN

Michael Gove has said it remains of “concern” that the European Union reserves the right to potentially use Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol again.

The Cabinet Office minister told the Commons European Scrutiny Committee that the EU’s move to trigger Article 16 late last month was “a moment when trust was eroded, when damage was done, and where movement is required in order to ensure that we have an appropriate reset”.

“Ordinarily Article 16 should only be invoked after notice has been given and after a means of resolution of the issue at hand has been found through the Joint Committee, and it is meant to take 30 days in order to try to find a resolution.

“It was the case, as you know, that the written procedure – the commission document – was published without adequate notice, without any real notice actually, being given either to the UK Government, or to that matter to the Irish government, even though manifestly Ireland is a member state.

“So not only was it the case that the EU’s own procedures were set aside, but the EU’s own members were ridden roughshod over – and more than that, Article 16 exists in order to protect the people of Northern Ireland.

“It is not in order to make sure that the EU’s own vaccine procurement programme can be salvaged in whatever way by taking this sort of action – that is completely inappropriate.

“It is still of concern that as things stand, the EU reserve the right potentially to return to Article 16 in this area. As things stand that regulation is still in place in its current form and I think there needs to be a realisation on all sides that this isn’t just some arcane bit of diplomatic procedure: this has real consequences on the ground.”

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